Markets & Economy

Mel Watt turns out to be astounding political turn for the better for mortgage credit

New head of Fannie, Freddie regulator is first thing Obama adminstration has gotten right on housing

Big changes this week, surprising and confusing -- mostly good news here, trouble overseas, and an astounding political turn for the better for mortgage credit.On Wednesday the 10-year T-note broke out the bottom of a well-defined four-month trading range 2.6 percent-2.8 percent to 2.5 percent. That's the lowest since last November, and at the threshold of a deeper drop. Mortgages moved toward the 4.25 percent area.Europe's awful numbers were as much cause as any: In the first quarter an overall GDP gain of 0.2 percent, but Finland entered recession, and Italy shrank 0.1 percent, Portugal by 0.7 percent and Holland by 1.4 percent. Visit Pimco.com and its "secular outlook" for a grim rundown on the emerging world, and a new forecast that a zero percent Fed is now open-ended normal.In the U.S., better. April retail sales were flat, but held after an exceptional surge in March. The NFIB small-business survey nosed up. April housing starts jumped 13 percent, some pundits compla...

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